Recently, I was going through some of my older writings and poems and came across a quote that I saw on a New York City train a few years ago.
Your outlook on life is a direct reflection of how much you like yourself.
This got me thinking about all of the variables that impact someone's view on life. How we are raised, the area in which we live, good and bad relationships, money, careers, failures and successes; the list is never-ending. While there may be an infinite number of factors that go into this equation, I believe each of us is responsible for our outlook on life, and on whether or not we like ourselves.
Regardless of where you have been or where you are going, your outlook on life can change for the better if you allow it to. You can let go of insecurities and grow to like yourself, if you give yourself the chance. To this point, I have found there to be three essential components in the correlation between your outlook in life and how much you like yourself. Check out the equation below:
Perspective + Being in Control of Your Happiness - the little things that don't matter = a more positive human being, both inside and out.
A powerful word that is easily overlooked. A quick query on Google defines perspective as "a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view." Point of view, stance and outlook are just a few of the synonyms associated with this word.
Perspective has been on my mind a lot lately. I believe perspective separates the winners from the losers -- not just in sport but in life itself. Varying degrees of perspective separate the optimist from the pessimist from the realist. Perspective separates life and death.
Your outlook, your point of view, your perspective on life is a direct reflection of how much you like yourself. If you have ever spent time with someone who passes more hours talking about how bad things are or how terrible their job is or who in general, is just a negative individual, then you probably know someone who doesn't like themselves very much.
I have friends swinging at some of the toughest curve balls life can throw and you would never know. These people find the good in the bad. They believe in something higher; something better for their lives and refuse to let anything get in the way of that. Individuals like this know who they are inside, are secure in that person and let it show outwardly.
There are others who have it better than good but let pettiness prevail. People like this obsess over the little things that eventually take over their lives. You see it when they speak, in their body language and in their outlook on life. Sometimes you find yourself wondering what will happen when life throws them a curveball -- one much faster, deceptive, and challenging to hit than the slow pitch their at bat with now.
Letting Go of the Little Things
Clearly, there are differences between someone who has a positive perspective on life and someone who doesn't. Security in one's self (or lack thereof) is one of those differences. Not relying on other, imperfect human beings for the main source of their happiness is another. Still, one of the clearest differences I've noticed is that those with a positive outlook on life don't let the petty, small things get to them. In contrast, those who don't like themselves very much allow the exact opposite to happen.
In the fall of 2015, Quarter for Your Crisis received a book in the mail titled, "Adventures of a Trail Stooge." The story follows Chris Quinn, aka The Esteemed Stooge, Sir Charles Guilons on his thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2013. It's a worthwhile read and I highly encourage it.
The night before Chris' final day on the trail -- the ascent up Mt. Katahdin -- he writes this down in his journal:
Everyone thinks they know -- but they don't know anything. We're not physiologically capable of answering the big questions. So we get caught up in the little questions. We make all our lives about the little things.
We make all our lives about the little things. Little things like worrying about what he said or she said or how we appear to others. We fall into the comparison trap and constantly wonder if we will ever have what someone else has because we think it's better than what we have. We keep ourselves busy with little things because we can handle them. But if our lives are built around these things, then we don't allow ourselves time with the big things; we give ourselves no time for the most important questions life asks us.
To be honest, it is often easier to talk about the little things because they're easier to digest. There's nothing wrong with this. What hurts us is when our lives revolve around the pettiness that doesn't really matter. How much time have you and I spent on Instagram admiring how amazing someone else's life looks and in turn, question our very own?
When Chris arrives home in New Jersey, he says this:
Humanity needs to humble itself in the big questions. But we can still feel great things, even if we can't answer them.
If we can grasp life's learning process -- getting taught but not always getting answers -- we're on the right track. Often times when we let go of needing an answer, we find exactly what we are looking for. This, however, won't happen if we can let go of the little things.
Let go of the little things and grab onto the big questions life has for you.
You are in Control of Your Own Happiness
Repeat after me:
I am in control of my own happiness. I am in control of my own happiness. I am in control of my own happiness.
It is not your parent's job, it is not your friend's job or your dog's job to bring you the happiness you so badly want. These people (and animals) cannot possibly understand everything you truly need to be happy. They may think they do, but they don't. Only you do. And only you can find it.
Those who don't rely on others for their main source of happiness are often, much happier. People who like themselves are happy with themselves. Your outlook on life is a direct reflection of how much you like yourself. Those of us who find our outlook on life grim, amongst other factors, rely on others to provide a main source of happiness. Unfortunately, if this is your case, you will always be let down.
People are imperfect, unreliable, moody, mean and the list goes on. The security you need so badly in your life won't come from your best friend or even your girlfriend -- it comes from within (people who enter relationships expecting the security to solely come from their significant other are in trouble, but that's a conversation for another day).
Those of us with a positive outlook on life found a unique and true happiness that is authentic and raw. Only I can have my happiness and only you can have yours.
Putting the Equation Together
When you let go of needing others to provide something for which they are not capable of, you begin the journey of finding your own happiness. Finding true happiness brings security in ones self. The combination contributes to how much you like yourself and ultimately, your outlook on life itself.
What makes perspective so unique, is that a slight shift can give us a refreshed image. A few degrees of change can help us find and be exactly who and what we are looking for.
What is your outlook on life? How can you start liking yourself better?
This post was originally published on Quarter for Your Crisis, a catalyst for millennials to reconnect with themselves, their faith, and the world around them.